The Triumph

From the Director

The hallmark of an urban serving university is the degree to which it is involved in the social fabric of a community and serves as a resource to educate its citizens and improve the area it serves. This issue of The Triumph illustrates some of the varied ways in which Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences does this on a day-to-day basis. The impact is evident with the first ever Puyallup River Film Festival, hosted on the UW Tacoma campus, which featured documentaries about the Puyallup River Watershed. A different approach is evident with the work of our faculty, staff and students at First Creek Middle School. This is part of a unique collaboration that includes the restoration of the First Creek Watershed, scientific research on water quality in the creek, as well as working of the middle school students to instill an interest in STEM career. The showcase of students in the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, meanwhile, featured the works of our graduate students, most of whole will remain in our local community and become tomorrow’s leaders.

Happy New Year from IAS.

- Bill Kunz, Director of IAS

Service-Learning and Environmental Chemistry: an Environmental Science Outreach Program

Contributed by Jim Gawel







IAS Professors Jim Gawel and Joyce Dinglasan-Panlilio have developed a service-learning partnership between UW Tacoma and First Creek Middle School. In collaboration with First Creek science teacher Donna Chang, the IAS faculty members work with UWT undergraduate environmental science students in TESC 333 Environmental Chemistry to develop entertaining demonstrations of environmental chemistry concepts. The undergrads then put on what has come to be called a Science Café in the classrooms at First Creek. Middle school students from multiple science classes then cycle through each demonstration where the IAS presenters have 5 minutes to entice them to participate and learn difficult chemical concepts. Gawel and Dinglasan-Panlilio have been doing this every quarter the Environmental Chemistry course has been taught since 2011. Feedback from First Creek shows evidence that the Science Café is successful in improving chemistry understanding in the middle school students, and the IAS undergrads respond that they learn the concepts incredibly well after having to present in a way that is understandable to younger students and after repeating their presentations close to 20 times! It is also hoped that connecting local middle school students to college students will help convince more of the younger students to continue on to get a college degree, maybe even in science!


UW Tacoma Undergraduate Sharon Hunter Awarded Mary Gates Research Scholarship

Contributed by Erica Cline

Google Images

Congratulations to Sharon Hunter, an undergraduate in Environmental Science, who won a Mary Gates Research Scholarship to study impacts of metals in forests in the Appalachian Mountains. These forests are downwind of population centers in the Midwest and thus are exposed to relatively high concentrations of metal pollutants from coal‐fired power plants. The red spruce trees in these forests have experienced a precipitous decline over the last few decades. In June of 2013 we revisited sites that had been studied in the early 1990s, collecting mycorrhizal samples from red spruce, for a follow-up study of the effects of metals. Mycorrhizal fungi sheath the roots and therefore form the interface between soil metals and plant uptake. Sharon’s project will examine red spruce mycorrhizal roots in an elevational transect that reflects increased metals deposition at higher elevations. She will use DNA sequencing to identify the mycorrhizal fungi associated with the roots of the spruce trees, and look for patterns based on metals concentrations in the soils as well as phytochelatin production in the roots and foliage (an indicator of metals stress). Her project will provide important insight into anthropogenic metals pollution and the mycorrhizal contribution to plant responses that help to minimize their impacts.

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Research Showcase 2013

Contributed by Riki Thompson, MAIS Coordinator

MAIS Graduate Showcase 2013

On the evening of Friday, December 6, MAIS students shared their work in progress via a poster session at the Graduate Research Showcase. The goal of the Showcase is to make graduate student research more visible to the UWT campus and facilitate mentoring relationships between those involved in related areas of research. I am thrilled to announce that the first showcase was a smashing success! Over 20 students presented research in progress via a poster session. Kudos to the students who participate and shared their work in process.

Charles Williams and student

1st Annual Puyallup River Film Festival

Contributed by Jim Gawel

Congratulations to the winning filmmakers at the 1st Annual Puyallup River Film Festival. The Festival, held December 5th at the University of Washington Tacoma, drew a wonderful audience from government agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, the Festival’s gracious sponsors, The Russell Family Foundation, and others interested in what is going on in the Puyallup River Watershed.

UW Tacoma's own students, Tiffany Degenstein, Jacqueline Hernandez, James Moore and Lauren Reetz won the student category with their video, The Importance of Salmon Conservation in the Puyallup River Watershed.

You can view other winning videos and select other submissions on the Puyallup River Outreach Project webpage.

The evening started with a social meet-and-greet over wine and noshes. The audience then filed into the theater to watch 16 short films submitted for the Festival with many of the filmmakers attending.

Films were submitted by a wide range of filmmakers, ranging from Pierce County’s Office of Sustainability to Lincoln High School's Lincoln Center to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission to Friends of Fennel Creek to Washington State University’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center.


John "Buck" Banks recently had a paper accepted for publication in the journal Ecological Applications. The paper, entitled "Deconstructing the surrogate species concept: a life history approach to the protection of ecosystem services," was written in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Louisiana, Washington State University, and the Agricultural Research Service (USDA). The research uses data and theory to explore the use of surrogate species in predicting the effects of pesticides and other toxicants on endangered or economically important species that contribute critically to ecosystem services. Buck was invited to give a symposium talk on this work in November at the 61st Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America in Austin, Texas. Buck also co-authored two other papers recently - one was published in October in the journal Environmental Entomology, and the other is an invited review paper (written with colleagues at CSIRO in Australia) that will appear in the Annual Review of Entomology in early January 2014.

David Coon published his first book, Look Closer: Suburban Narratives and American Values in Film and Television.

Jim Gawel was the invited speaker at the UW-SRP Agency Seminar at EPA Region 10 this summer. His speech, "The Long-Term Impact of Metal Smelting Operations on Arsenic Availability in Urban Lakes of South-Central Puget Sound Region" is available for viewing online.

Claudia Gorbman published her new book, The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics. Full citation: John Richardson, Claudia Gorbman, and Carol Varnallis, eds., The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics. NY: Oxford University Press, 2013. 38 new essays on recent audiovisual aesthetics, from cinema and TV to Youtube, games, and everyday life. Claudia was also responsible for the introduction: John Richardson and Claudia Gorbman, "Introduction" (40 pp.), The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics. (See above for the remainder of the citation.)

Benj Haisch (alumnus of UW Tacoma - AMC major) is now a professional photographer in Seattle. His photographs have been recognized by two organizations: BuzzFeed named him one of the "16 Instagram Accounts That Will Make You Want To Grow A Beard And Move To The Pacific Northwest" and his photographs of an elopement at Rattlesnake Ridge earned him the #1 spot for Green Wedding Shoes' Top 10 Weddings from 2013.

Michael Honey published his book, Sharecropper's Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, and the African American Song Tradition (Palgrave Studies in Oral History).

Ellen Moore took a group of students to Vietnam in the early fall of 2013. While there, she gave a lecture at the Vietnam National University entitled, "You're Getting Warmer: the Connection between American News Coverage of the Environment and the Drive for Profit." Additionally, three students, Kylie Lanthorn ("The Paradox of Green Advertising: American Capitalism and the Practice of Greenwashing") and Michelle Parker and Ashley Peters ("A Tale of Two Countries: a Comparison of Environmental Issues in the U.S. and Vietnam") gave presentations. Michelle Parker also created a blog about her experience in Vietnam.

Ingrid Walker gave a TEDxTacoma talk on "Drugs and Desire." See the presentation here:


Congratulations to all on their hard work and triumphs!

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